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I was a victim of domestic abuse for 18 years, until I found my inner strength

By Ann Angala Published Nov 09, 2021 5:42 pm Updated Nov 25, 2021 3:26 pm

I use my greatest fear as my driver. 

I am a victim of domestic abuse. And lived through 18 years of violence in my marriage. It began with small acts of mistrust, words like, “bobo and tanga,” when our opinions didn’t match. That soon escalated to a slap, a punch in the eye, a kick in the gut, and just downright beating.

I never saw this between my parents. But we never grew up talking about relationships, and feelings either. So when it happened to me, I figured it was normal. After all, I have seen these in films and tv, so maybe it was acceptable. 

Living a life of violence causes irreparable psychological damage. And I caused damage to my children by allowing them to live this life.

My whole married life was an uphill climb. And then came our 5 children. Sadly, they too were witnesses and victims of abuse.  

This is my fear. 

Living a life of violence causes irreparable psychological damage. And I caused damage to my children by allowing them to live this life.

We are out of the situation now. Because I left my husband in July 2016. I stayed in the US under the care of relatives and friends. And that was the first time, after so long that I felt good about myself. I am a hands-on mom and seeing my children cope well without me, gave me the affirmation that I did a good job in raising them. 

I found my inner strength and worth, thus I began to heal. It was then I knew that I was ready to become a mom again. In May 2017, I flew back home.

I immediately found a job as marketing head for a real estate company. I enjoyed work and my reintegration into the corporate world. But an incident happened at work that caused me distress. My boss got upset and it blew out of proportion. 

For two weeks, I stayed locked up in my room. I went out only to use the bathroom and I hardly ate. When I finally convinced myself to go back to work, I was a mess. The mere thought of meeting my boss in the stairwell made me tremble. So I resigned.  

In short, violence at home was my comfort zone.

After a month, I applied for work again. This time in an NGO that helps victims of human trafficking. I figured that maybe a life of service would ease my stress. I loved it. Service work was the way to go for me. Until one day, I missed out on a task. And understandably, my boss got upset. Again, I went back to a state of anxiety.  

Then I decided to get professional help. I consulted a psychologist who unraveled my past. My deep dark secret of childhood trauma surfaced. The methods of physical discipline I received when I was growing up, which was typical in the Asian Culture, caused my tolerance for domestic abuse; and the lack of affirmation from my parents was the root of my instability. In short, violence at home was my comfort zone.

 

I was a good enough student. I made it to the honor roll in pre-school but did not hear any words of praise. Moving on, I fared well in elementary and high school. Although it was very turbulent, I had to navigate it all by myself. But college was a blast. I found my tribe in UP Mass Comm, specifically in our org Cineastes where I got affirmation from my peers and professors. I was happy and I graduated with honors. 

My early career was fun too. I was in my early 20 and touring the country with bands that I managed. Then at 26, I had existential issues. I went to Baguio to clear my head and met my soon-to-be husband. After a few months, my life changed. 

We are all broken from unpleasant childhood moments and the pain that we encountered in life.

After I became pregnant with my first child, we got married before my son was born because it was the “right” thing to do and the rest is history. 

I am now separated. And I am living a peaceful life with my children. We are all broken from unpleasant childhood moments and the pain that we encountered in life.

My fear is something in the past which I cannot change. But I need to make amends for the hurt of my children. Thus, I have given in to my calling and dedicated my time and ability to find solutions for victims like me.  

I work for different communities. I am a champion of women's empowerment and a strong advocate of biking as sustainable and eco-friendly transport. 

The path I accepted is difficult. But I have been sent angels and partners that make the journey possible. My experience with government agencies that allowed me to share our story is enriching. Projects for anti-abuse, women empowerment, and biking, together with the Bikers United Movement and InThePink are materializing. With the help of organizations like the Dutch Embassy and The Delegation of the European Union, and LGUs like Quezon City, Malabon, and Pasig, change is happening. 

I know it is a long way to go to shift mindsets and culture. But I have a reclaimed lifetime ahead. I believe. I am loved. I will serve. And I will fulfill my purpose. 

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